Why You Shouldn’t Use Just Any QR Code for Your App

QR codes have had one of the biggest technology comebacks in history. It’s now common for people to scan QR codes to read digital menus, make mobile payments and app purchases, complete registrations/donations, and even learn more about products and events. 

QR codes are barcodes with unique URLs that users can scan to be taken to a website or app. The QR code magic lies in its ability to connect the digital and physical worlds. Smartphone cameras are the handy mechanisms that make these connections possible. They detect the content encrypted within a QR code — emulating the click of a link.  

It’s important to keep in mind that not every QR code is created equal. A QR code is only as powerful as the link behind it… and some links are not optimized for mobile apps. 

The importance of apps and QR codes

Of the 70% of digital time spent on mobile, 92% is spent in native apps. Apps deliver a smoother user experience free of registration pop-ups and cookie preferences. Apps are also capable of yielding 3x higher conversion rates, 2x higher engagement rates, and ultimately higher lifetime value (LTV) than the mobile web. 

Based on the prevalence of mobile apps, the most successful QR code strategies are built with the app in mind. This can turn QR code scans into high-value app acquisition and engagement opportunities for offline audiences — which is often a huge addressable market. 

Pyramid of LTV from offline to app

Using deep links with QR codes

Using a mobile linking platform (MLP) to track, create, manage, and update QR codes ensures that users will always be taken to the right content in the app after scanning a QR code.  

The key to optimizing your QR codes for native apps is the link behind your QR code. Just like any link you scale across your digital channels, a QR code link should be equipped with deep link routing. 

When the user has your app installed already and scans a QR code, they expect to be routed to the corresponding content inside your app. Not the app store, not the home page, and definitely not the mobile web. App users expect to be sent to your app if they have it, and doing so ensures you’re harnessing the value of your app platform through further engagement. 

For users who do not already have your app installed, you can use your QR code campaign as an acquisition opportunity. Once you enable your QR codes with reliable deep linking, the links behind your QR codes can detect if those users do not have the app installed. Deep links can also detect whether users are on iOS or Android and then route them to the appropriate app store. 

Lowes commercial with QR code that downloads the app

Next, deferred deep linking enables you to route a user to the in-app content they expect, even after install. This provides a great personalization opportunity that drives conversions and retention. 

QR code journey from newspaper to app through install

If you prefer to send users from a QR code to your mobile website (rather than the app), you can always choose to set up a fallback URL to the corresponding content on your mobile website. 

qr code on product packaging

An MLP can help you put all this into practice. You’ll get an edge over the competition and drive better QR campaign performance by delivering a more personalized experience with reliable links and measurement. 

Handling QR codes at scale 

Successful QR code campaigns can get a lot of attention, especially if you are running a TV ad or displaying a QR code on signage at a high-traffic event. That means your QR code campaign needs to be able to handle massive scale. 

You don’t want to worry that users who click your QR code will land on an error page or that the influx of scans will crash your app. That’s why an MLP is so helpful for your QR code strategy — it has the infrastructure to support billions of link clicks (or scans) a day. 

When you need to create many QR codes at once, an MLP plays a key role with just a few lines of code. Branch’s QR Code API lets you programmatically create thousands of unique QR codes for various campaigns. You can speed up your workflow by automating the creation of multiple custom QR codes.

QR codes used in store to view more sized and colors

Executing dynamic QR code campaigns

You may create one-time-use QR codes with permanent link data behind them — e.g. for a simple “download the app” campaign. But most likely, you will also create QR code campaigns that need to evolve, like printed QR codes on signage or products with a temporary promotion. 

For these campaigns, you’ll want the ability to easily update the link data behind your QR code. An MLP like Branch gives you the tools to update link data behind QR codes after the fact so your campaigns don’t go stale. 

Customization is key

Custom QR codes promote brand affinity, trust, and awareness. Users are more likely to scan a QR code that feels native to their brand experience. 

Marketers can customize QR codes within the Branch dashboard, which are generated through our API. Branch enables marketers to customize every detail of a QR code and visualize it before shipping. Customization features include a custom background image and/or center logo, custom code, color finder, and shapes. 

customizing qr codes in the branch dashboard

Optimize QR codes for your app with Branch

If you want your QR codes to be optimized for your app, look no further than Branch. Branch enables you to create and generate QR codes right from the Branch dashboard or through our APIs. 

Top brands like Peet’s Coffee and Tea and New Look leverage Branch to deploy QR codes that move users from offline, OTT, and desktop channels to specific app content with the added comfort of reliability and customization. Branch provides attribution data for QR codes automatically. With Branch, you can understand and optimize performance of your QR code campaigns by viewing opens, installs, and downstream app events right in the Branch dashboard, attributed to the corresponding QR code. 

Whether you’re working on loyalty rewards, order ahead, app promotions, user-sharing, or in-store campaigns, Branch’s mobile linking platform has you covered. To get started, reach out to your account team or contact our sales team.